Islamic Perspectives

Raising Confident Muslim Kids - i

By Khafayah Abdulsalam

Our children are an amanah (trust) with us from Allah. It’s our duty to nurture, educate and protect them as they grow into productive adults.

Moms, it’s very important to take some time out to ponder and reflect on the part you are playing or have played in your children’s journey of life. Do your children know their relationship with their Creator? Remember: all that they do will be written down, and when their book is presented on the Day of Accountability - the contents will be based on your work! Ask yourself: what are you doing to ensure that your children’s book will reflect righteous deeds, good character and true success? How confident do you feel about reporting back to Allah and being able to say: “Allah I raised my children with ihsan (excellence) to the best of my ability in accordance and obedience to Your laws.” What a wonderful feeling will this be?

How do we perform the most important role on earth? Children have an innate nature of being self-centred: when all their needs are fulfilled, they are more naturally inclined to help. We want our children to grow up with self-discipline, morals, self-esteem and responsibility. Taking on responsible roles at an early stage helps develop many qualities in children that will benefit them and the Ummah in the future. From birth, start talking to them about Allah  (glorified and exalted be He), tell them how much you love them and how you will do your best to ensure they grow up being responsible Muslims, within a framework that they can flourish and grow comprehensively.

Productive moms’ goals are greater than just getting our children to stick to a routine. Our goals should be:

* To establish the oneness of Allah  (glorified and exalted be He) in their hearts

* To love the Prophet  (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)

* To teach them life skills and values that will see them into adulthood

But where do we start? Where Luqman [peace be on him] did! His main focus was to establish Allah in his son’s heart, by teaching him:

* that God (Allah) is One, and the Only: He has no partners or associates

* that Allah  (glorified and exalted be He) knows everything in the heavens and the earth and is aware of everything you do

* to have and develop clear goals in life

* to have a clear vision and focus of life.

Let’s get started!
Here are some essential skills to raise great, productive Muslims Insha Allah:
1. The unique child: Understand that each child is born with individual, inherited personality traits that are beyond our control as parents. It’s for us as parents to identify the unique characteristics and behaviour of our children. Also know that children cannot be moulded or pushed in directions we like. When we understand this, we will be able to provide them with the guidance, nurturing and support they need to fulfill the potential Allah  (glorified and exalted be He) has bestowed them with.
2. Embed the love and power of Allah in your children. Teach them to say “la-ilaha illa Allah” (there is no god but Allah) as a start of establishing the love of Allah. Allah says: “O ye who believe, save yourself and your family from the fire.” [Qur’an: 6: 66]. Instill in them the belief that all things happen by the will of Allah  (glorified and exalted be He). If they ask you for something, ask them to pray two rakaahs  with you and make du’aa to Allah  (glorified and exalted be He) to provide whatever they want. This way, you’re teaching your child that when we ask, we ask from Allah  (glorified and exalted be He) alone, and we rely on Allah  (glorified and exalted be He) for our provision. Teach them to love Allah (glorified and exalted be He) and follow His laws through your conversations with them. It’s absolutely crucial for our children to understand why we have to obey Allah  (glorified and exalted be He) and His laws - it’s the essence of our worship.
3. Establish the extreme importance of salah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Teach your children to pray when they are seven and punish them for neglecting it when they reach the age of ten.” [Abu Dawud]. Be punctual with your salah. Get into the habit of praying at the earliest hour, teach this to your children, and they will be more than likely to be punctual in everything else they do. Make prayer times a family event: even if children are not of age, let them join in or sit quietly; so that when salah becomes obligatory upon them, they are firm and ready to speak to the King of kings with full concentration (khushu’).
4. Engage them in beneficial activities. Expose your children to Allah’s  (glorified and exalted be He) creation and by taking them for walks in the parks, visiting the zoo, or watching the sunset - my children love it and they love watching the moon and the stars the most!
Many of our Islamic activities are built upon the lunar system.  teaching our kids to determine the times for salah through astronomy is an important skill. Let them understand the rising and setting of the moon and the Sun - it reconnects them with Allah’s creation and Allah  (glorified and exalted be He) Himself.
Teach your children swimming, horse riding, famous proverbs and good poetry. Gardening is another great activity you can do with the kids - my children love growing their own food! Cut the electronic baby-sitter to a bare minimum - I mean the television. If you can do without it, the better.
Enroll your kids in physical activities like karate, football and other games that will build their strength and stamina.  
5. Family meetings and meal times. Have family meetings or councils (shura) to discuss any issues and the smooth running of the family home - let family members take turns to chair the meeting. Children will learn the importance of the family unit and will love being in charge! Through such family meetings, we are teaching them to be leaders, to manage and be managed, presentation and speaking skills and how to resolve issues.
Have fun - play a family game together. In my meetings with my children, we say one thing we love about each other and if someone is upset, we all come together for a “family hug” - it’s such a great feeling of security and warmth knowing your family is there for you and with you. Family meals together are another great time for bonding. A lot of important information is exchanged over meal times because everyone comes together to share their day, their plans and experiences.
If we can establish strong family ties, our children as the future members of the Ummah, will be able to build a strong community Insha Allah.
6. Make chores fun! We know as Muslims that cleanliness is half of our faith. If being clean is a large part of us being Muslims, we need to cultivate in our children at an early age how to maintain their home and own space.
In their development, we all must play an active part to keep both our internal and external environment clean. A friend of mine who is a nanny taught the kids not to litter the ground; when she was asked why, she said: why litter the bed we will be sleeping in - i.e., the ground? I think this was beautifully put!
Let children participate in house chores. When you speak to them, rather than saying: “my home” or “my kitchen” say “our home” or “our kitchen”- this gives them a sense of belonging and responsibility. Make sure your kids have something to do consistently and make it fun!  

7. Communication. This is one of the most vital skills a child will learn during his development. Speak to children according to their level of understanding. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) spoke in a simple and clear way that everybody could understand.

Consciously make eye contact when speaking to your children so that they have your full undivided attention, even though you may be tempted to multi-task.

Look for hidden messages: most of our communication and the meaning of what we say is conveyed through our body language.

Come down to their level: as parents, children know that we are in the authoritative position and they will have to listen - we need to exercise this power in a fair and consistent manner.

I had a boss who was about 6.5 feet tall, and I must say it felt intimidating having someone tower over me, a total invasion of my bubble space!

I want you to imagine if I can feel this way, how will our children feel when we stand towering over them while talking to them? No wonder they seem to be oblivious to what we say. Our children will open a channel of communication when we talk to them at their level. Try it out: next time your child comes to you, either kneel down to speak to them or get the child to sit next to you - more or less on the same level. Now you are at the same level and your child will see you as part of their world and be more receptive to what you want to say, with a sense of being valued and respected. Try this repeatedly with your children and see the results!    (productivemuslim.com)

Continued in the next issue

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2013 on page no. 20

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